[Community of A/V Enthusiasts]
The Vandersteen VLR, a coaxial design with a 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch alloy dome tweeter. Available with or without magnetic shielding. This was one of the first and one of the best sounds I heard. I can't recall the last time $1195 went this far. The center image created by these speakers was staggeringly life-like.
Large-scale dynamics from the slim 3-way Nola Contender and PrimaLuna amplification. Initial impression of the Nola was WOW, a genuine bargain at $3400.
The impressive looking and sounding Nola Metro Grand ($25,000), featuring an open-baffle midrange and tweeter, said to reduce coloration. Amplification courtesy of PrimaLuna.
The mighty Marten Coltrane, EAR amplification and digital, and a Townsend turntable. This system really deserved a larger room. The finish on these speakers can best be described as rich-guy nice, which I'd expect for the rich-guy price ($70,000/pr).
The Monaco 1.5 turntable by Grand Prix Audio. Only in a room with Wilson, DCS, and VTL, does $23,000 (without arm) worth of carbon fiber seem normal.
Fabulous-sounding set up featuring Jolida amplification, Von Schweikert speakers, and $15,000 of reel-to-reel magic by United Home Audio.
In the same system, Jolida's Glass FX DAC, $250, 24/96 USB, tube output stage, and look-at-me casework.
The Wilson Audio Sasha ($27,900) appeared in a few rooms, sounding Wilson-y, I guess.
One of the bargain all-stars. Napa Acoustics hybrid integrated ($399) fed by an iPod astonished, paired with . . .
The Kiss from Vienna Acoustic was explosively dynamic, rich-sounding, and fabulous looking ($16,000). It can also Punch!
The Spendor A3 may look plain, but sounds positively captivating ($4300). I wanted these speakers until I heard the Magico V2.
The Magico's friends included SonicCraft amplification (Opus Signature amplifier and Opus preamplifier $3,450/ea) and Esoteric digital (K-03 CD/SACD, $13,000 and G-03X master clock, $5,000). This system was put together with considerable skill and positively sung.
Like a jack-in-the-box, the Utopias require you to wind them up before the real fun begins. Well, sort of. The crank is for adjusting the angle of the multi-piece cabinet, which is still pretty cool, just not as cool as a jack-in-box, but then again, the JM in JM Lab stands for Jacques Mahul, so maybe you get your jack after all.